Programmed cell death in bacteria is generally triggered by membrane proteins with functions analogous to those of bacteriophage holins: they disrupt the membrane potential, whereas antiholins antagonize this process. The holin-like class of proteins is present in all three domains of life, but their functions can be different, depending on the species. Using a series of biochemical and genetic approaches, in a recent article in mBio, Charbonnier et al. (mBio 8:e00976-17, 2017, https://doi.org/10.1128/mBio.00976-17) demonstrate that the antiholin homologue in Bacillus subtilis transports pyruvate and is regulated in an unconventional way by its substrate molecule. Here, we discuss the connection between cell death and metabolism in various bacteria carrying genes encoding these holin-antiholin analogues and place the recent study by Charbonnier et al. in an evolutionary context.
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- Bacillus subtilis
- Staphylococcus aureus
- Programmed cell death